By: William C. Head, DUI Attorney
Over the last two decades, prescription sleep aids such as Ambien, Lunesta and Sonata have increased in popularity across the country. These are typically sedative hypnotic drugs, or benzodiazepines. Multiple manufacturers now make competing types of prescribed sleep aids. However, as the number of prescriptions for these mediations has increased, so has the number of drugged driving charges stemming from episodes of “sleep driving”—a phenomenon that has been the center of much controversy and debate.
Fortunately, several politicians, celebrities and even judges and law enforcement officers have been involved in sleep-driving DUI drugs cases, and their accounts of somnambulant driving have been in the news, to help educate the public that it can happen to anyone.
Sleep driving is akin to sleepwalking in that people who experience it typically do not remember anything that occurred during the driving episode. In fact, research shows that people who were ever prone to sleepwalking as children are also more likely to sleep drive. However, scientists distinguish sleepwalking as more of a reflex, whereas sleep driving involves complex behaviors like finding car keys, getting in the car and driving.
How much is a DUI attorney, if I am seeking to hire one of the best lawyers in GA? Our Atlanta DUI attorneys have defended clients charged with driving under the influence of sleep medicine who took their prescription sleep aid—whether Ambien, Sonata, Lunesta or another—and woke up in police custody with no idea of how they got there.
Atlanta DUI lawyer Bubba Head is at the top of his field in the areas of DUI law, DUI defense, and drug possession cases. Mr. Head’s fees are determined after he meets with you for your FREE professional case evaluation in his office in Sandy Springs. Or you can talk to Bubba Head on the phone if you cannot get to the Concourse building. Saturday and Sunday appointments are available, and so are payment plans.
Your case may need DUI expert witnesses brought in to dispute some of the State’s evidence, like breath test results. The expert’s fee will be included in your final legal fees. Always remember that a Georgia DUI conviction is expensive, and you will be paying for it for a long time, in the form of higher car insurance, potential job loss, and family problems.
Typical cases for this alleged crime start when a person took a dose of a prescription sleep aid, but unexpectedly was aroused from bed (often due to being awakened by a loud noise, or cell phone, or a pet, or the television going to a loud commercial).
Some who are accused of DUI-drugs unknowingly took more of the drug while in this dream state. Taking more than prescribed can be highly dangerous, especially if the person drives after ingesting even more of the drug.
In Georgia, it is possible to be charged with DUI if you are driving under the influence of prescription medications, including sleep aids such as Ambien or Sonata. However, these charges can be fought, especially if you took the sleep aid as directed and did not intend to drive. Several common types of proof can provide direct evidence or circumstantial evidence of non-intentional driving.
Some drivers are dressed in night clothing, like a peignoir or pajama bottoms and no shoes, or completely nude, and driving. Most sleep driving cases involve very slow speeds, far below the speed limit. Severe ataxia, imbalance, disorientation and confusion are usually observed, once the driver stops driving.
Cases become more complex (and difficult to fight) if any smell of alcohol is detected by police. Three reasons for this added complexity are: (1) the medication bottles warn against having ANY alcohol and this very powerful medication, (2) some people are found with an open container in their car, and may not recall how or when that alcohol was put there, and (3) the limited scientific reports of combined sleep medicines and alcohol show a greater likelihood of engaging in sleep driving, as opposed to taking only the prescription medication.
Regardless of this complication, the true legal issue is LACK of INTENT to be in an automobile. Because a DUI-DWI requires BOTH the intent to take an impairing substance AND the intent to drive, assertion of an affirmative defense of unintentionally driving may be how your DUI attorney fights your drugged driving charges.
It is especially critical that you seek an experienced criminal lawyer if you were involved in an accident while sleep driving, inasmuch as these criminal cases can have severe consequences.
After being arrested for DUI in Georgia, the first thing to do it identify an expert on Georgia DUI law through top attorney ratings. Look at who is BEHIND the law firm, review each of the trial lawyers’ credentials, and check out the criminal defense attorney who leads the law office. Every experienced DUI lawyer in the law firm must have full command of DUI laws and possess training in all aspects of successfully challenging the driving under the influence criminal case.
This successful defense record must include suppressing breath alcohol tests, and knowing every prior appellate decision on the Georgia implied consent law. An increasing number of drugged driving cases require that our criminal defense lawyers know how to challenge a GBI blood alcohol or drugs test. Being an INSTRUCTOR in the three NHTSA standardized field sobriety tests (SFST) is also necessary.
The best DUI attorneys in Atlanta, Georgia will offer you a FREE consultation, explain how their criminal attorneys search for a successful defense in your case, and aggressively represent clients to the maximum extent the law allows. Limit your search to DUI lawyers who have legitimate lawyer ratings and a history of proven results on knowing how to beat a DUI. If we are the criminal defense attorneys for you, ask us about our attorney payment plans.
Call our DUI defense lawyers NOW, 24-7, for an initial case review and FREE legal advice: 404-567-5515, or email our criminal justice attorneys.